Tag Archives: A Treasury of New Zealand Poetry for Children

Three more cool places to read a book of poetry: a wardrobe, a dress-up box , upside down and a reading cat…..

Last night I had some late arrivals for this challenge and I can’t resist posting them.

Today it was wild and cold at the beach and the thought of snuggling up with a book of poetry in a cosy place was very inviting. My plan for this afternoon! I have a stack of poetry books I want to share on my other blog, NZ Poetry Shelf.  My favourite place is on the long couch by the large window with the big view of the sky and the bush. Bliss!

Thank you so much for sending me these! Very cool.

Jude aged 9, reads tucked in between jackets, inside his Dad’s wardrobe. (Oh how exciting! He is reading my first ever book of poems for children, Flamingo Bendalingo!)

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Venetia aged 11, and Lyla aged 1, read in the dress up box – cosy! (From Paula: I love the way the gorgeous cat, Lyla, is reading too!)

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Lyla reads in bed. (From Paula: I wonder what poem she is reading? A cat poem I hope!)

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Theo, aged 7, reads upside down in the lounge. (Note from Paula: I have never read a poem or a story upside down in my life!)photo 2

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A Christchurch Hot Spot Poetry Tour event photo album thanks to Paul Koster

Take the lovely Russely School Hall, loads of young participants, a handful of local authors, two new books, an audience of 200 plus, poems new and old —  and you get one very good event.

I didn’t know at the time, but Jenny Cooper, the very cool illustrator of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, was in the audience. If I had known, we would have made a song and dance about her fabulous illustrations. Yes I would have sung a song for her! Her heavenly illustrations transform the book into the treasure box that it is. I keep replaying the whole event in my mind and these photos bring it all back. Thanks to a Russley parent for them (only Russley School children in these as we only had permission to post participants from that school). But great offerings from Fendalton School, Lyttelton School, Ilam School and Selwyn House amongst others. In one photo, you can see Caleb reading his poem from The Treasury and in other Ewen and Monica reading their pieces from the back of The Letterbox Cat. Special guests! A highlight at the end … a magnificent performance of Apirana Taylor’s poem, ‘haka.’ Definitely deserved that high five!

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The Treasury Interviews: Kauri Class at Ormond School interview Kyle Mewburn — If I don’t write stories I think my brain will explode


Kauri Class are a Year 2 class at Ormond School, near sunny Gisborne, on the East Coast of New Zealand. We are six and seven year olds and we LOVE to do art, especially painting. Our favourite art we have done so far is ‘Pirate ship charcoal art’, making a big cardboard pirate ship, painting Gerald the giraffe from Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, and drawing Cass the Colour Robber Man. We love to do art from our book characters.

We enjoy sharing our news with each other and we really like playing ‘Seaweed’ with Mrs. Gordon, our principal. Most of us like practicing handwriting! Our favourite writing is about animals, writing about trucks and diggers, and making up our own stories about things like ‘A Fun Bus’.

These are some of our ideas for when we get older…Ben L and Myles want to be a zookeeper or a vet, Joshua would like to be in the army, Noah and Ben A would like to be train drivers, Brian would like to be a Ninja, Tom would like to be a tractor driver, Myles, Georgia and Noah would like to be pilots, Ruby-Rhain would like to be a surfer, Tommy would like to be an archaeologist, Mia would like to be a ballerina, and some of us are still thinking about it! Koka Sarah would like to be a better surfer!

We hope you’ve learnt a little bit about us!


Kyle Mewburn


Kyle Mewburn is an author of some of Kauri class’s favourite books, like Melu, Old Huhu, The Grumble Bee Kiss, Hill and Hole and Kiss, Yuck, Yuck. He has a fabulous long poem in A Treasury of New Zealand Poetry for Children called ‘Rainy Day Washaway.’

He lives in a house that he built, with a grass roof, in the middle of nowhere, in the South of New Zealand, near the South Pole!

He sings to his veggies and we think he is awesome at writing books!


The Interview:

  1. How old are you? (Georgia)

I’m older than the hills and younger than the sun.


  1. Why do you live in the middle of nowhere? (Tommy)

Because I snore so loudly I’m too embarrassed to live close to people. Besides, the middle of nowhere is also halfway to somewhere, so it takes me the exact same time to drive to the sea as it takes to get to the mountain snow.


  1. Does your hand get tired from writing? (Mine does! Ben L.)

My hand used to get so tired my words would all fall asleep on the page and nobody could read them. Luckily someone discovered the typewriter, so my hands don’t get tired any more. Though my fingers do get a bit stiff after a whole day writing.


  1. Why do you swim in the river and what do you find in it? (Joshua & Ruby-Rhain)

I LOVE swimming in rivers, especially icy cold ones. There are lots of eels and trout in my river, and some gold as well (if you know where to look). But the best thing I always find when I’m swimming in the river, or even just sitting under a little waterfall on a hot day, is INSPIRATION. There are millions of ideas flowing past me every day.


  1. Have you found any gold in any rivers? (Tom)

I haven’t found any gold myself, but a friend who knows how to do gold-panning says he always finds tiny specks of gold. The gold miners took away most of the gold 150 years ago. But there’s a new dredge on the river that’s scooping up gravel from the river bottom and finding lots of gold.


  1. Why do you like writing books so much? (Tommy)

I’ve got lots of ideas, and if I don’t write stories I think my brain will explode.


  1. How did you get to be so good at writing? (Rheannon)

Practice, practice, practice. I just kept writing until my stories got better. I also listened to advice from clever people. Some days I still don’t think I’m very good at writing AT ALL. IN fact I think my stories SUCK! But if I keep writing it again and again, it slowly gets better. .. most of the time.


What a great interview Kyle and Kauri Class. Thank you! Kyle has written some of all-time favourite NZ picture books. Check out some of his covers.

9781775430988 9781869437596 9781865046594 9781921272752 9781869438470 9780143504535 9781869438975 9780143565987 9781775430278 9781869438265

The Treasury Challenges are good to go! Take your pick and get poeming!


Here are the five challenges. I have been posting some of them as they come. Especially the photo ones. And will do if I can on tour.

P l e a s e    s a y  w h i ch    c h a l l e n g e   i t ‘ s   f o r!  And send me your name, age, year and name of school.

Challenge number one: Write a poem that is inspired by another poem. See here for details. I will post favourites and have copies of the Treasury for a few (or  another book if you have it already!).

Challenge number two: Write a poem and then write that poem with surprising things in surprising places (sand, mud, window). Take a photo and send it to me. I will post them as I get them and will  have two $50 book vouchers for my favourites. See here for details.

Challenge number three: Take a photo of yourself reading a poetry book in a great place to read a poetry book. Your parent will need to send me permission so I can post it. I will post while I am on tour and will have two $50 book vouchers for my favourites after November 8th. See here for details.

Challenge Number 4 Take one of the titles I have given you from the Treasury and use it as the title of your poem. Go here for the titles.  I have a copy of The Treasury for one or two poets but will post my favourites.  Deadline  Wednesday November 14th.

Challenge Number 5  Make a poem video. You would have to use one of my poems or a poem you have written. Or you can pick a poem from the Treasury and I can see if I can get permission from the author. Otherwise we will run into copyright issues. You would have to post it on YouTube and send me the link. See here for details. I have a copy of The Treasury for one or two poets but will post my favourites.  Deadline  Wednesday November 14th.

The Treasury Challenges: Putting your poems in fascinating ways in fascinating places (Ewen has used thumbtacks)

Hi Paula,

I wrote my poem using thumbtacks and although it was hard, it was really fun. This is my favourite challenge so far! Thanks for making it.

From Ewen, Year 7, aged 12, Cobham Intermediate

Dear Ewen

What a cool idea for a poem. What labour went into the making of this! I love it!. I pasted typed version of poem at the bottom!

From Paula


blots stain

the paper like a tear stains the heart

Ink blots
the paper,
a tear
stains the

Treasury Challenge: Write a poem then write it in a cool place (and this is because it is I C E!)

To Paula I wrote a poem using ice except that the writing dried up in the sun so we didn’t get all the writing.  But here it is.
Thank you from Daniel.

To Daniel

What a brilliant idea! I might try it, if it ever gets icy here.



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Treasury Challenge to take a photo of yourself reading poetry in a cool reading place: check out this poetry nest!

To Paula

We built a poetry nest and read lots of poems in it and then wrote poems too.  It was a stormy day so it was nice to be in a poetry nest!

From Daniel and Gemma

To Daniel and Gemma

I love your poetry nest. It is just the sort thing I liked to do when I was young and when my girls were young. Good to see AA Milne there too. Just the sort of book to read out loud in a poetry nest on a wild and stormy day.

From Paula


Making poems from Treasury titles: Gemma and Daniel have gone with d r a g o n s

One of the Treasury challenges (number 4) is to make poems to fit one of the titles I gave you from A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. For the title choices see here.

I love these two dragon poems by Gemma (8) and Daniel (5) who go to Adventure School. What crackling words! What crucklepopping words! Great job!

There are two cool dragon poems in the Treasury by children!

You have until Wednesday 14th November to do this challenge.

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The Treasury Interviews: Gemma interviews Patricia Grace

Gemma 1

Gemma Lovewell lives in Wellington with her parents and younger brother, in a house filled with books. She goes to Adventure School, and loves to try everything life has to offer. Gemma wrote her first poem when she was 3 years old, and has since then has had articles, stories and poems published in magazines, newspapers and on websites. She published The Big Box when she was five with the help of Joy Cowley.

Gemma has written the bios and the questions. Patricia has a beautiful lullaby in A Treasury of New Zealand Poetry for Children.


Patricia Grace is a famous New Zealand writer, who is well known overseas as well as locally. Her first book was called Waiariki. It was published in 1975 and it was the first collection of short stories by a Māori woman writer. She got started in writing by entering her work in competitions. Since then she has won many awards and been recognised in the New Zealand order of merit.


The Interview

What is your favourite thing to do?

I really enjoy reading and writing and I love family picnics and barbecues.


Do you have a favourite poem, and what do you like about it?

My favourite poem is ‘Rain’ by Hone Tuwhare. It brings with it the sounds, smells and feelings of rain. [Note from Paula: This poem is in the Treasury!]


What kind of writing do you find the most enjoyable?

Fiction. I like reading novels best of all.


Of the many awards you have won, which award is the most important to you?

They are all important to me. I really appreciate the recognition of my work that each award brings.


Have you had any poems published before?

I had a poem published many years ago, but I don’t usually write poetry.


If you were not a writer, what would you be?

I used to be a teacher, and liked that very much. If I wasn’t a full time writer, and if I was younger, I would like to be a teacher again.


Do you think poetry is important for kids, and why or why not?

Yes, poetry is important for kids – reading it and writing it. Poetry makes you think and feel. It allows you to express your feelings about a wide range of topics and helps you to think about language and use words well.


Thanks for the great interview Gemma and Patricia!


The Treasury Interviews: Phoebe interviews Tessa Duder



A Short Autobiography on Phoebe Pierard

Ever since I was little, I have loved books, language and how words are so meaningful. Born in 2002, I am now 12 years old and in Year Seven. I have only recently started writing poetry properly, but my first poem was called ‘As Winter Comes’ and I wrote it when I was around the age of seven. Another hobby of mine is playing the cello. I have been brought up in a very musical family, so I started cello lessons when I was four. I am now working towards my Grade 5 exam. For me, the hardest question is: “When you grow up, what do you want to be?” These days, I simply reply, “There are so many opportunities in this world, that I haven’t reserved myself for one thing!”


A Short Biography on Tessa Duder

By Phoebe Pierard 26.7.14

Tessa Duder. What a name to remember! Born in 1940, she began writing fiction in 1977. She published her first novel, Night Race to Kawau, in 1982. Her most successful works are the Alex quartet, which are based on her own teenage years when she held records in butterfly and medley swimming events (1958-59). She hasn’t just written for children, she has also published adult fiction, plays and biographies. Tessa Duder now lives in Auckland and is still writing. Thank you Tessa, for giving us such inspiring literature!


The Interview:

Q: To start with, since you broke all those swimming records in your teenage years, do you still swim as a regular practice?

A:   Not regularly, but I’ll always enjoy swimming, of course. (All those lengths as girl rather put me off; pool training, with nothing to look at, or listen to, or see, would possibly be the most boring form of training of any sport.)


Q: What main message do you want your readers to get from your novels and poems?

A: That life, however tough at the time, is worth living; that hard work brings its own rewards, though perhaps not the ones you expected. And when I started writing, in the early 1980s, that girls can be adventurous, take risks and set themselves big goals, just as boys have always done. Until the 1980s that wasn’t what girls grew up believing, odd as that may seem today. That’s why most of my fiction has female main characters – also, I had four daughters!


Q: Do you prefer your fans to contact you by normal mail, or email? Have you got any favourite letters that you have kept?

A: I’ve got several boxes of letters kept from the days (late 1990s) before I was fully on e-mail. Nowadays most come by e-mail, which is certainly easier. I always try to reply within a few days. (I do keep these on e-file, too.) However they come, every single one is treasured.


Q: Now, to capture the teenage feel in your works, would/have you used any text speak or slang?

A: Yes, I have used text speak, and slang is just another word for the colloquial way people speak in real life. But you have to be a bit careful not to overdo it, use words which come and go quickly. I often check out words and phrases with my teenage grand-daughter!


Q: Continuing with that idea, do you feel the writing and speaking styles in NZ have changed for the better or the worse?

A: They have changed, as language always does. Mostly that’s good, but I’ve become a bit obsessive about proper punctuation, which today is often sloppy; it’s there for a purpose, to make the sense absolutely clear. And I don’t like hearing from publishers and other adults that today’s children and teens can only cope with stories that are short, briskly written and not too demanding. Some young people want and deserve more than that, as J.K. Rowling, Margaret Mahy, Fleur Beale, Phillip Pullman and many others have proved.


Q: Have you changed your writing style to keep up with the times?

A:   I don’t think so, not basically. I’ve always tried to write prose that reads well out loud, says what I want to say and doesn’t strain for effect. (I can spend up to thirty minutes on a single page, looking for the best words, juggling parts of sentences around, so it’s not always an easy process.) I never consciously write using simpler words or shorter sentences just because I’m writing for younger readers.


Q: What is the writing award you are most proud of and why?

A: I’ve been thrilled to bits over the years with several ‘best book’ awards and two wonderful opportunities to travel, to France and the Antarctic. But I think the honour that has given me most deep-down pleasure was about ten years ago, when Alex was judged in a TV survey as one of New Zealand’s five ‘most memorable’ characters in fiction. The others were Wal and Horse from Footrot Flats, Jake and Beth Heke (together) from Once were Warriors and Fred Dagg aka John Clarke. That’s pretty amazing company! Alex was the only character from a teen book, the only girl, the only one from an urban middle-class background. To this day, I have no idea why she seems to have been memorable for so many readers.


Q: And lastly: Have you ever written a poem that is the same subject as one of your published novels?

A: Not yet! But about twenty years ago an 11-year-old girl called Sally Payne from Hokitika wrote a wonderful piece called Alex – the poem which is so good that I’ve often read it when visiting schools. It’s in rhyming verse and I couldn’t have done any better myself! I’m very grateful that her teacher thought to send it to me.

Paula: Thank you for such a thoughtful interview Phoebe and Tessa. Tessa has a long poem in the A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children called ‘The Cat Who’s Known as Flea’ which is full of wit and humour.

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